Dominic Fletcher / Photo: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Whoever said midweek college baseball games aren’t important?
First, every game is important because it is a chance to win. That fact alone makes any and every game important.
But No. 8 Arkansas’ victory over No. 4 Texas Tech Tuesday night was very important to a Razorback squad that was swept over the weekend at Mississippi State.
The Hogs and their fans needed to get their swagger back after a humbling weekend in Starkville, Miss., and they did it by dropping one of the better teams in the nation in their tracks, 5-1.
This Razorback team has shaken off losing performances all season, but the sweep they suffered at the hands of the Bulldogs sent some Hog fans swooning and others jumping off the deep end. The worry was that the Hogs had vaulted to their top-10 status only to run out of gas as the regular season reached its back half.
The Razorbacks put an end to any such thought by upending the Red Raiders with a fine pitching performance by Barrett Loseke in relief. He mowed down 10 batters in 4 1/3 innings, giving the Hogs 17 Ks against the free-swinging Red Raiders, who came into the game as the No. 4 hitting team in the nation, batting .318 on the year.
Loseke has had some solid performances this year mixed in with some outings that he would rather have back. However, his work Tuesday might be a sign that he has turned a corner. That would be great news for the Razorbacks as they work their way down the backend of their regular-season schedule.
Despite the victory, the Razorbacks still left 13 runners on base. They Hogs have struggled in that area all year. It’s part of what tripped them up last weekend when Mississippi State swept them.
However, the victory vaulted the Razorbacks back up to No. 4 in the NCAA.com’s RPI rankings. Oddly enough, Texas Tech is ranked No. 3.
The Razorbacks (29-13, 10-8 SEC) host the Alabama Crimson Tide for a three-game series beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Baum Stadium, which “Baseball America” named the top college baseball venue in the nation this week. Saturday’s game is at 6 p.m. and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. All three will be streamed on SEC Network Plus on watchespn.com.
The Razorbacks will be without starting second baseman Carson Shaddy, a Fayetteville native, for the third game since a pitch hit his right hand in the first game of the doubleheader against Mississippi State last Saturday. However Casey Martin will start at second base after missing Tuesday’s game with a hip injury. Jack Kenley will play at Martin’s regular spot at third.
The Razorbacks regular weekend pitching rotation is set to go, with Blaine Knight on the mound Friday, Kacey Murphy on Saturday, and Isaiah Campbell on Sunday.
With Ole Miss’ 14-3 whipping of LSU last night, the Rebels (33-10, 11-8) pulled ahead of the Razorbacks by a half game in the SEC West race.
Lions take Ragnow with 20th pick
Frank Ragnow / Photo: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow (6-5, 310) became the first Arkansas Razorback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2008 when the Detroit Lions made him the 20th pick Thursday night.
In 2008, Darren McFadden went fourth and his backfield mate Felix Jones went 22nd.
The Lions needed a center after former Hog Travis Swanson left Detroit to join the New York Jets through free agency.
Ragnow’s pick wasn’t a popular choice by “The Detroit Free Press,” which graded the pick as an “F” because writer Carlos Monarrez believed the Lions had greater needs at running back, defensive tackle, defensive end/outside linebacker.
Former Hogs land at DePaul, Middle Tennessee State
Darious Hall / Photo: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Swingman Darious Hall and spot shooter C.J. Jones announced separately Wednesday where they will be playing basketball next season. Hall ended up at DePaul, while Jones is headed to Middle Tennessee State.
Jones was in Mike Anderson’s Razorback basketball program for two seasons, while Hall played one season for the Hogs.
Hall showed a lot of promise throughout the year, and Jones played well until hitting a shooting slump after his return from Christmas break. Jones still had his moments, though he never recovered the shooting groove he had early in the season.
Each of their decisions to transfer caught those outside the program off guard, and possibly those within it as well. Hall looked to be a sure starter next fall, and if Jones picked up his defense, he might have had a shot at being more than a designated shooter.
However, it seems both were upset with the amount of playing time they earned at Arkansas. The irony is now they are both going to be sitting out a year at a new school where they have no relationships whatsoever when they could have been playing for the Razorbacks.
Maybe the incoming talent at Arkansas had them anxious about their places on the team?
Whatever the actual reasons they opted to leave, if they had rather play somewhere else, it’s ultimately better for the Razorbacks that they left.
Anderson’s Hogs are going to be green next season, but what would be worse than inexperience would have been to have disgruntled veteran players, undermining team chemistry. That can only lead to dissension.
Yurachek speaks at Springdale Prayer Breakfast
First-year Arkansas Razorbacks athletics director Hunter Yurachek has made enough of the rounds since being hired in mid-December that if you wanted to hear him speak in person that you probably have gotten the chance.
However, the Head Hog will be the keynote speaker Thursday, May 3, at the Springdale Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the First United Methodist Church of Springdale at 206 W. Johnson Ave.
While Yurachek will likely mention something about the Razorbacks, it will be an opportunity for him to speak more personally about his convictions, faith, and family.
The event is advertised as a non-denominational affair, but it will include scripture reading, music, and prayer by various community leaders and pastors.
The event begins at 6 a.m. with a full breakfast buffett. The program begins at 7 a.m. Tickets are $15 apiece, and can be purchased at the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and the Jones Center for Families.